Monthly Archives: January 2012
Your first response may match mine: “So what, who cares?” But, in my case at least, this quickly shifts to “Oh, so you didn’t receive enough entries to hit your income target and now you’re desperately chasing more.”
Maybe I’ve been around the marketing block a few too many times but I can think of few better ways to promote failure than with such a thinly-veiled plea for more customers to come forward.
The primary purposes most industry award programmes serve are to generate revenue for the organisers from the entry fees (for the Engage 2012 Awards that £295+VAT) and ticket sales (a tidy £2,750 plus VAT for a table of 10) and to give those in the industry an excuse to self-congratulate themselves at a back-slapping dinner in a fancy hotel they wouldn’t otherwise be allowed into.
But that doesn’t mean awards programmes are bad. Quite the opposite; without them many industries would have no outlet to promote their most talented individuals and forward-thinking organisations.
The bit that sits uncomfortably with me is seeing the marketing industry, of all industries, openly advertising the fact that it has failed to attract sufficient interest in its own awards programme by casually extending the entry deadline. All this does is:
punish those who got their award entries in on time (their odds of winning fall with every late entry accepted)
generate additional undeserved revenue for the awards organisers
…and alert everyone that the awards are probably worth slightly less than the silver-plating on the trophies
So, here’s my request of all awards organisers: keep doing the sterling work you do but please, if you set a deadline, make it a deadline. Don’t move the goalposts or change the rules as you go. Plan your marketing carefully (like an award winner might), offer early bird discounts for companies that submit their entries first, and refuse to entertain late submissions.
Yes, your income stream might dry up a little and you might upset some of the lazy “we-ignore-deadlines” people, but applying some discipline and rigour will do more to inject credibility into your award brand than any amount of tail-chasing self-promotion when your own failure to plan ultimately rears its ugly head.
The February 2012 edition of Fast Company has a fascinating article (now available online here) about the ways career patterns are shifting in our rapidly changing world. And this state of flux has profound implications for marketers, not only as they plan out their own careers, but also as they consider how to reach and maintain contact with their target consumers.
According to US data, job tenure, the length of time people stay with the same employer, is falling sharply. In 1980, 51% of men aged 35 to 64 had been in their job for longer than ten years. Fast forward twenty-five years to 2005, and that percentage had plummeted to 39%, and all the evidence points to this having fallen further since.
In fact, for US workers the median tenure in their current job is just 4.4 years, and the average number of different jobs held in a lifetime now stands at 11.4 for men and 10.6 for women. The drivers behind these changes are many and complex, but foremost are the demise of the “job for life” and increasing churn amongst younger workers.
It’s an evolution that is radically changing the way the average consumer lives their life, and has ushered in a new era of insecurity and volatility. Today’s workers have to be more open to risk, less preoccupied with long-term life planning, and more adaptable to changing circumstances. And with these new attitudes comes greater openness to trying new things, a lower tolerance of anything that doesn’t live up to expectations, and a far more intense focus on getting the most out of the here and now.
Marketers must pay close attention to these societal shifts and consider how changing attitudes may affect their ability to tap into their customer base both today and in the future. With falling job tenure comes greater geographical mobility, more rapid short-term buying decisions, and greater cultural diversity. Customer data will go out-of-date faster and business relationships will need to take on a more fluid dimension.
But above all, workers are now living very different lives to the careers of previous generations and the long-term marketing approaches that worked in the past may cease to deliver the results we expect. Today’s marketers must adapt with society or risk seeing their own careers go the same way as the job for life.